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New initiative from Brushstrokes to help parishes welcome and support refugees

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As the refugee crisis continues, groups that support asylum seekers and refugees face an increasing demand for services. One such group, Brushstrokes Community Project in Smethwick, saw an unprecedented demand for their support in 2014.

With more people fleeing countries that are being ravaged by war and oppression, this demand is expected to increase throughout 2016.

One asylum seeker who comes to Brushstrokes for food said:

“Coming to the UK, to safety, was a long journey. I was hungry and tired then. I am still very sad as I don’t have anything now.
Being destitute is so cruel.”

This story of physical and emotional suffering is one that is shared by many asylum seekers coming to the UK.

For over fifteen years Brushstrokes, which is a partnership project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Infant Jesus Sisters and the Parish of St Philip Neri, has supported refugees and asylum seekers in Sandwell and West Birmingham. Last year alone they helped over 1,000 people through immigration advice, English lessons, providing practical resources and befriending.

They are now using this extensive experience to help parishes across the Archdiocese welcome and support refugees locally.

As the Year of Mercy continues, Pope Francis spoke of the challenges we face in responding to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers and encouraged communities to respond positively to these challenges. Brushstrokes’ new project will help local parishes do just that.

Teresa Clements, Project Manager, and Sandra Tittel, Outreach Coordinator, have worked out a programme of training to help other parishes develop services to support refugees and asylum seekers locally. Drawing on their broad experience, Teresa and Sandra will visit parishes to provide training, workshops, mentoring and support to other organisations, helping them to develop their services.

/media/news/library/aida-and-baby-charlotte.jpgThe training will raise awareness about issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers and provide advice on how to engage newcomers. It will cover befriending skills to support refugees through the difficult transition phase of adapting to life in the UK, mentoring for volunteer teachers on delivering English lessons and will advise parishes on providing practical resources.

An added benefit from the workshops will be the opportunities to meet and share good practice with other groups who are working to reach the same goals.

A long-term aim of the project is to develop a support network of parishes across the Archdiocese.

If you would like to get involved in the project please speak to the receptionist at Father Hudson’s Care on 01675 434000 or contact Teresa Clements by emailing teresa@brushstrokessandwell.org.uk or on mobile 07464 497417.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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